Top Technology Trends, 2000 ALA Annual Conference

Technology and library users, an ongoing discussion

Technology experts who are members of the Library and Information Technology Association (LITA), a division of the American Library Association, met for a managed discussion in Chicago on July 9, 2000 to discuss what they feel are the top technology issues and trends in today's libraries.

Top Technolgy Trends

Privacy and Customization
Web site geared towards the e-commerce industry that includes articles, a FAQ, Web sites, conferences and a discussion forum.
"Personalization" by Jakob Nielsen, October 4, 1998. Compares "personalization" and "customization" and their impacts on users.
Implicit or Explicit Website Personalization: Which is Best for You? Briefly describes the two basic methods of Web site personalization: collecting user preferences through direct questioning (explicit) or watching their behavior (implicit).
Web Site Personalization Technology. An overview of the technology used in different personalization methods.
Examples of Personalization/Customization "My Library: Personalized Electronic Services in the Cornell University Library", D-Lib Magazine, April 2000, Volume 6, Number 4.
Other 'My Library' Projects
LSSI Virtual Reference Desk Software. Caused a stir on LIBREF-L before the ALA Conference in July 2000 because of privacy concerns with the patron history and patron profile features.
Amazon, often used as an example of customization because of their 'customers who bought this book, also bought' feature.

Trust Management
"XML and the Resource Description Framework: The Great Web Hope" by Norm Medeiros, Online, September 2000. As Medeiros notes, "The current search engine architecture no longer supports metadata on a wide scale largely due to a lack of trust." Article has several background references that can be followed up on, along with a good explanation of the importance of trust in authenticity for spreading reliance on metadata.
"Trust Management on the World Wide Web" by Rohit Khare and Adam Rifkin. First Monday 3 (6) (1998). Overview of the concept of trust management. As the authors note, "Asking the question 'Is someone trusted to take some action on some object?' entails understanding the elements of TM."
"A Trusted W3 Model: Transitivity of Trust in a Heterogeneous Web Environment" by Yinan Yang, Lawrie Brown, Jan Newmarch, and Ed Lewis. A recent paper proposing a set of trust attributes that can be applied in a non-hierarchical environment, such as the heterogeneous Web. Has a good list of references.
"Med-CERTAIN: MedPICS Certification and Rating of Trustful and Assessed Health Information on the Net." Description of a project to "establish a fully functional demonstrator for a self and third-party rating system enabling patients and consumers to filter harmful health information and to positively identify and select high quality information." As it notes, "Health information on the Internet, through its popularity and variable quality, provides an ideal testbed domain for the exploration of tools and techniques to support advanced information management such as rating and filtering technologies." Contact information included.

Open Source Software - OSS4LIB, Open Source Systems For Libraries
The home page is a current listing of events and stories culled from library specific and OSS general resources.
A really good deeper background resource on Open Source Software can be found at All the arguments and examples and further readings and links that anyone could possibly want.
Eric Raymond maintains the web site listed above, and his book "The Cathedral and the Bazaar" is close to being a Bible of OSS.

Automating Reference - WebFeat
WebFeat is an example of a possible future for academic library reference and instruction - using one interface to search multiple databases, and return results from each on the same page. - LiveRef(sm)
Lists libraries doing Real Time Reference, what software they are using, and links to the software's home page. University of Leicester
An excellent annotated listing of libraries using technology for reference, including Chat, Email, MOOs, Video Conferencing, and MyLibrary interfaces. - RRChat - Florida Distance Learning Reference & Referral Center
What better way to serve distance learners than with distance reference? Still in a trial stage, this program offers assistance from 8am-8pm - real hours! - Library of Congress Project
LC's digital reference program. They have just completed Pilot 2 of the project, and are getting ready for Pilot 3. LC has been partnering with 30-40 libraries across the U.S. to analyze email reference, and looking at building a Question and Answer archive. - LSSI Virtual Reference Desk
LSSI has developed a reference/chat application with many developed features, including co-browsing, patron/question tracking, and a referral system so that multiple libraries can share expertise.
A list of various sites using Chat, including dates of operation and software involved.

Medlane XMLMARC. A Project of Lane Medical Library, Stanford University Medical Center
The XML Files: The Truth Will Be Out There. A student project from the University of Alberta

Web Usability
LITA Human/Machine Interface Interest Group "Usability Testing Resources" by Nicole Campbell. A compilation of online resources and articles, papers, and workshops related to usability testing. - Jakob Nielsen's Website
Includes links to Nielsen's bi-weekly articles on Web usability and other news about designing usable websites.
Susan McMullen's site, "Usability Testing and Library Web Redesign at Roger Williams University", steps the reader through the process of usability testing and interface design at RWU. Also includes a list of resources for Web design and usability testing. - Usable Web
This site, maintained by Keith Instone, is a wonderfully comprehensive "collection of links about human factors, user interface issues, and usable design specific to the World Wide Web."
Sun Microsystems' "What is Usability Engineering" outlines the steps involved in, and benefits of, usability testing.